The Mid Novel ARGGGHH!

Last book I finished reading: Whispers Underground, by Ben Aaronovitch. Highly enjoyable, though am now left slightly worried because I got all the geeky references…

Book I’m still reading: The Three Musketeers – why does it seem to take longer to read a book on my Kobo? Hmmm.

Words written this week: 7000

Times I thought ‘Holy hell, how much does this WIP suck?’ Too many to mention. Because I have reached the dreaded Mid Novel. The point where I, without fail, say to myself ‘Why the hell did you ever think you could plot/write decent dialogue/create characters?’

I’m not alone in thinking like this. It’s a sort of function of the mid-novel for me, and for other writers too

There is a graph somewhere on the net about the stages a writer goes through as they write a novel. I’ll link to it if I can remember where it is, but it goes something like this:

OMG best idea ever! I’m going to get a best-seller out of this and no mistake. Cake for everyone! *throw confetti*

Okay, could still be good

This sucks

This makes *insert worst book you’ve ever read here* look good

I want to die

Please let me stab my own eyeballs out

Okay maybe this doesn’t suck quite as bad as I thought (about 80k for me)

I think I can make this work!

At least it won’t be *insert worst book you’ve ever read here*.

Okay, it doesn’t suck donkey balls. Much.

You know what, I think I may be able to salvage this…

Done, now where’s that damn tequila?

I’m writing my ninth novel now. I’m at 30k words, and wondering whether I’ve forgotten how to plot, or whether I should just spork my own eyes out now. You’d think I’d be used to it, but I still despair of it ever working. ‘Ack! It’s awful!’ I wail. ‘It’ll never work/be crap’ ‘You say that every time,’ says Other Half. Usually while rolling his eyes. ‘But this time I mean it!’ ‘You say that every time too.’

And, while I am loathe to admit it, he’s right. But I think a case of the Acks! is actually a good thing – if I think it’s crap I work hard to try to make it less crap. If I thought it was good, I’d not work as hard. And then it probably would be crap.

Allrighty then!

So, having decided that I really should, you know, blog more often (or indeed at all), and having taken a massive poll (read: asked a couple of people) about what they’d like to see on an author’s blog, I have decided to stick with writery things, with added occasional Stuff What I Am Interested In.

So, today, as per request…inspiration. Where does it come from, and when you’ve found it, what do you do with it?

Sooo then, what inspired my Pain Mage books?

Answer: Lots of things. For me, it’s never just one thing that sparks the book, it’s the combination of things. In this instance, it was a random sentence about the Maddie McCann case on a forum, combined with a character (not my MC, Rojan) who’d been knocking about for a while asking to have her story told. Only I wasn’t sure I could really use her POV to do it. I could have, I suppose, but that would have been a VERY different book. Harry Dresden was in there somewhere I think (what if I make him darker, more cynical? A bit more British in essence? Oh, and on another world. And noir, with rain and a femme fatale and…) The pain magic itself grew from a little piece in Thomas Covenant which interested me, the city was part inspired by Dan Abnett’s city hives, and part Bladrunner, part Sin City, part all the other dark books I’ve read and films I’ve seen. Rojan just…turned up and started talking to me. And being the sort of person he is, refused to be anything other than the centre of attention.

Very few of these were concious inspirations or influences. But they were all hanging around in my head as I started to write. And the thing is, inspiration only gets you so far – it’s how it all hangs together that is the proof of the pudding. Mmm pudding. Once I start to write, all those inspirations morphed, and the story became its own thing. By the time I realised that Rojan and his brother had been estranged for several years (a surprise to me!), and why, the story became not just a loose bunch of influences/inspirations/ideas/other things beginning with ‘i’, it became something else.

Which, for me, is absolutely the best part of writing – when a loose jumble of ideas becomes its own living thing.